When life gets a bit busy or stressful, what do you reach for…wine, chocolate, shopping? …how do you make a good choice and find balance?
Port in a storm
When you’ve had a tricky day or a tiring week, what’s your go-to choice to turbo boost relaxation?
A glass of port in a storm?
If you manage to unwind naturally and healthily every single time, I want to know all about it, you may be a unique being!
For most mortal folks, whilst we might know that a bit of meditation, a short walk or a quiet read might unwind the brain and body, that doesn’t always translate into actually choosing one of those things. More often, we opt for the super-fast switch off button that is alcohol, the mega-distraction tool that is shopping or that ever popular emotion-muffler, junk food.
I hope it’s not too much of a shock when I tell you that I fall into this trap too. Well, that’s ok I hear you say, a little bit of what you fancy does you good. But when it leads to feeling lethargic and grumpy, disturbing my sleep and putting weight on, I know it’s time to say whoah!
This one’s for me too
I wanted to share this thought with you, but this week, my Monday Motivation Message is as much for me as it is for you…let’s explore it together 🙂
Self medication is a term to describe whatever you eat, drink or do that tries to make you feel better in a slump or crisis. Let’s be honest, we all have something; our go-to choice when we feel we’ve really earned a reward or need to smooth our feathers. There are so many ‘quick-fixes’ and plenty of advertising to tempt you to partake. There are even credit services if you can’t afford them, people who will bring them too you if you can’t get out, someone even invented smoking that tastes of popcorn and with no ashtrays! Self medicating has never been easier. I often refer to it as a ‘quick-fix’.
What’s wrong with that?!
It ain’t rocket salad. You know, as well as I do, that quick-fixes (especially cake-shaped ones) always come back to bite you on your increasing bum. Sooner or later, you have to face the consequences of the problem that got masked, but didn’t go away, and the additional problems the quick-fix leaves you with.
Ill-health, weight, debt, they’re all consequences. Ones that we ignore for as long as we can.
There are two tips I want to share with you.
The first is the power you have in recognising your feelings. The ones you have just before you go for the self medication. The ones you’re trying to run and hide from. The urge to shout at your boss, partner, children, relatives. The exhaustion of working too hard for too long. The frustration of not feeling heard or being treated unfairly.
There, right there, in recognising and naming those feeling, is your power.
It can be as simple as sitting still, noticing what’s happened in the day, naming the emotions it’s brought up and acknowledging those feelings. If the thought of doing that seems a tall order, try this video The Bridge (between you and the fridge) taking you through the process to feel clearer and more relaxed, in only 8 minutes and 23 seconds! (Also available below)
Awareness of your feelings is really important. The second part is to face the reality of the choice you’re making. Whatever the self medication is, it might change your symptoms short term but it’ll give you a whole host of other problems on the other side.
And here’s the thing I realised only this week – how often the quick fix actually doesn’t make me feel better, it just stops the dreadful urge I was experiencing in wanting it. Weird.
Ponder the consequences. Ask yourself it worth it? and most importantly “Will it make me feel better or worse, really?”
I have a plan
I sometimes suggest what you might plan to do differently this week. This time I’m sharing my plan. I’m planning to do the two tips; notice feelings then choose a different (healthier) fix. I’m going to drop the crisps, wine, chocolate and pick up the littlest cat for a cuddle. Stroking pets gives you a dose of Oxytocin which makes you feel calmer and happier.
I’m going to put down social media and pick up my real books. This reduction in bright screens will also help me sleep better.
And I’m going to check to see if sometimes the urge for a quick fix suggests I need to make some permanent changes, so I don’t keep dealing with the same stress.
I’m aiming to lose a stone in weight, (the menopause gifted me a stone and a half), gain time back from social media surfing and use it for yoga and writing. Watch this space!
I think we all can benefit from exploring just what it is we’re wanting to numb or escape from. Is there more fun, joy or time you need in to create in your week?
Have a great week, noticing what you REALLY need and noticing how you can nourish your precious self.
I’ll let you know how it goes for me!